United States District Court, S.D. California
December 2, 2005.
VANNIL MARTINAL MATTHEWS, Petitioner,
CITY OF SAN DIEGO, et al., Respondents.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: IRMA GONZALEZ, District Judge
ORDER DISMISSING CASE
On June 16, 2005, Petitioner, a person incarcerated in the San
Diego County Jail proceeding pro se and apparently awaiting
sentencing, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 2254. Petitioner contended that his federal
Constitutional rights were being violated because jail personnel
were interfering with his access to the law library and legal
supplies, physically assaulting him, interfering with his legal
mail, subjecting him to illegal searches and seizures, and
subjecting him to false imprisonment. (Pet. at 3-4.) In its June
27, 2005 Order, the Court dismissed the Petition because
Petitioner had not satisfied the filing fee requirement, had not
named a proper respondent and had not alleged exhaustion of his
state judicial remedies. (See June 27, 2005 Order at 1-4.)
Petitioner was informed of these pleading defects and was granted
leave to file an amended habeas petition after satisfying the
filing fee requirement, or file a separate civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if he wished to pursue claims challenging the conditions of his confinement but
not the fact of his custody. (Id. at 5-6.)
On September 1, 2005, Petitioner filed a Motion to proceed in
forma pauperis as well as a document titled "Summons in a Civil
Action" which was docketed as a First Amended Petition. (Doc.
Nos. 4-5.) In an Order dated September 13, 2005, the Court
granted Petitioner's Motion to proceed in forma pauperis and
dismissed the action without prejudice because Petitioner had
failed to name a proper respondent, had failed to allege
exhaustion of his state judicial remedies and because it remained
unclear whether Petitioner intended to proceed in this action
with a habeas petition or seeks to bring a civil rights action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On November 14, 2005, Petitioner
filed a Second Amended Petition.
FAILURE TO ALLEGED EXHAUSTION OF STATE JUDICIAL REMEDIES
As this Court has previously informed Petitioner, state
prisoners may only challenge their state court convictions via
federal habeas corpus if they have first exhausted state judicial
remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 2254(b), (c); Granberry v. Greer,
481 U.S. 129, 133-34 (1987). To exhaust state judicial remedies, a
California state prisoner must present the California Supreme
Court with a fair opportunity to rule on the merits of every
issue raised in his or her federal habeas petition.
28 U.S.C. § 2254(b), (c); Granberry, 481 U.S. at 133-34. It appears that
Petitioner's criminal case is still pending in state court.
Petitioner is again advised that he must pursue his state court
remedies, including direct appeal of the conviction he seeks to
challenge, before proceeding in federal court.
HABEAS CORPUS JURISDICTION
Like Petitioner's prior petitions, it is unclear whether
Petitioner seeks to challenge a state court conviction or the
conditions of his confinement. As this Court has previously
informed Petitioner, in order to invoke this Court's jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, he must allege that he is "in
custody pursuant to the judgment of a State court."
28 U.S.C. § 2254(a). On the other hand, if Petitioner seeks to present claims
challenging the conditions of his confinement but is not seeking
to be released from custody, such challenges are properly brought
pursuant to the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Preiser
v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 488-500 (1973). When a state prisoner is challenging the
very fact or duration of his physical imprisonment, and the
relief he seeks is a determination that he is entitled to
immediate release or a speedier release from that imprisonment,
his sole federal remedy is a writ of habeas corpus. Id. at 500.
On the other hand, a section 1983 action is a proper remedy for a
state prisoner who is making a constitutional challenge to the
conditions of his prison life, but not to the fact or length of
his custody. Id. at 499; McIntosh v. United States Parole
Comm'n, 115 F.3d 809, 811-12 (10th Cir. 1997).
Although unclear, the amended petition filed in this case
appears to be an attempt to file a civil rights complaint
pursuant to section 1983, because it names as defendants (rather
than respondents) the City of San Diego, the District Attorney,
Deputy District Attorneys, Governor Schwarzenegger and number of
officers who apparently work at the county jail. If Petitioner
seeks to challenge a state court conviction, he may file a new
habeas corpus action when his conviction is final and he has
exhausted his state court remedies; however, if Petitioner is
presenting a challenge to the conditions of his confinement at
the San Diego Jail and is not seeking immediate or speedier
release, he must file a separate civil rights complaint pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 if he wishes to pursue such claims.
Based on the foregoing, the Court DISMISSES this action
because Petitioner has failed to allege exhaustion of state
judicial remedies and because it is unclear whether Petitioner
seeks to challenge the validity of a state court conviction or
the conditions of his confinement. If Petitioner wishes to
challenge a state court conviction, he may do so by filing a new
federal habeas corpus action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 when
his state court conviction becomes final and he has exhausted his
state court remedies. If Petitioner wishes to proceed with a
civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, he must file a separate
civil rights complaint which will be given a separate civil case
number. The Clerk shall close the file.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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